Just got finished with a late Suhr (Ramadan Mubarak, everybody!) but I found myself thinking about the same thing I was thinking on when I went to sleep: the Liddell/Evans fight. I went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Ridgeland at the invitation of my guy Scott, just to get out of the house for awhile. The place is packed, and amidst all of the turmoil of the Gators/'Canes game, came the shouts for quality bouts and cheers for the UFC matches going on. As the Miami/Florida game began to look more like a rout than a game, more and more of the pixelated monitors began obediently displaying the familiar blood/sweat/tears Octagon in all of its Hi-Def glory.
After a decent pantheon of mediocre bouts, we finally amp up for the Main Event, Liddell vs. Evans. The complimentary and traditional glove-touch aside, I watched very little action animate before my eyes in the first round. As I texted the play-by-play with my future brother in law, I watched Liddell, whom I was pushing for, start to build that terrifying momentum any Follower of his knows so well, and grinned as he kept that right arm cocked, ready to let the hammer drop at a moment's notice and valet a few hooks upside Evans' head.
Now I'm a fan of athleticism, no matter the sport, no matter the gender; i appreciate a good performance. And although i was rooting for Chuck, I was disappointed with Evans' performance: he found himself backed into the fence a couple of times, there were straight, elongated and miscalculated throws made by Liddell he should've capitalized on, just for points' sake, but he didn't. And as that bell rung, I found myself intrigued by Evans, and as the next round started I knew that if his stamina was waning, dude was gonna be in a world of hurt by the next bell. More aggressively the fighters engaged each other, and about 1:15 in, the Iceman cameth with a right jab.
And that was when the taut rubberband known as Rashad Evans, released.
Evans walked into the jab, taking the damage to his torso, effectively stopping the blow, and countered with a right-cross-made-haymaker with a buttload of forward momentum, snapping Liddell's jaw in the opposite direction. Chuck fell like a House of Drinking Straws. When Evans released, Kelly and I both screamed. Loudly. Because we knew what was about to happen before the blow landed. Evans even immediately followed with a left cross that missed, ONLY because Liddell was already falling, just in case his gambit didn't finish the job.
At that point, the entire evening-long raucous emanating from the establishment of Buffalo Wild Wings of Ridgeland, MS vanished. You would think that it was the 1960's, and that Joe Louis had just defeated Jack Dempsey on the eve the Voting Rights Act was signed or something. I didn't hear a SINGLE sound of praise or amazement or shout or anything anywhere outside of our isthmus of melanin for what seemed to be the longest four seconds ever timed, as Liddell lay intoxicated from the anesthetic in Rashad's right hand.
AND DON'T LET NOBODY TELL YOU IT WAS A LUCKY PUNCH. Because that's what I thought at first, until I noticed the replay where Evans is clearly looking at Liddell, clearly stunts the growth of Chuck's right hand and clearly follows with that Left Hand in case his Right didn't seal the deal. I think the speed of his release, coupled with the velocity, momentum and trajectory of the punch made that equation happen. A little slower/faster, a little less powerful, a bit off target and Chuck would've released a left hook, and cocked that dangerous Right Glove back again. But it didn't go down that way, and I think Chuck screamed inside the same way we did as he realized what was about to happen.
I'm dismayed though, at how quiet the place got, how long the faces of the formerly excited Gators fans were, even the bartenders moved a little slower in collecting/distributing everyone's payments. It was a combination of a Matrix-like slowdown moment and the Visa CheckCard commercials when someone tries to pay with cash.
But when prejudice strikes, I guess we all fall down.